Eco holidays have become a huge trend in travel, with holidaymakers looking to take their precious breaks in a more sustainable way. But while people want to make responsible travel decisions, they felt there were some barriers to doing it in practice.
So we surveyed 10000 people for their favourite Eco Friendly holiday destinations across Europe to find out what these might be. And we discovered that people were genuinely looking for more information on responsible travel, not only in the planning stages of the trip but on arrival at their chosen destination.
And while we want to make people “more pink” by enabling them to enjoy exciting experiences while they’re away, we think our eco-holidays tips, including the best places to go and stay, can also help make you a little greener too.
Firstly let’s look at where to go for a more green holiday this year. A third of people surveyed said that they’d love more advice on environmentally-friendly destinations.
Here are our top five places to visit in Europe, where there’s a focus on energy efficiency, sustainability and eco-friendly transport options. Oh, and they’re pretty cool too.
One of the most successful models of a green economy, this Scandinavian superstar has long topped the lists when it comes to eco-tourism. Denmark was one of the first countries to promote environmental legislation, and this is very visible in its clean capital with cycle paths running throughout the city. They’ve also got a love of organic food (and some very strong fish dishes), so you can eat and drink well while you’re at Copenhagen. It also helps that it has a rich history, a stunning harbour, beautiful architecture and some incredible museums.
Not to be outdone by its near neighbour, Stockholm was awarded the first European Green Capital Award in 2010. Again you’ll be visiting the major attractions on foot or by bike, but don’t worry if you need to take a bus or taxi, many of these are run by bio-fuel. In fact, they’re aiming to be fossil-fuel free by 2040. So when you wake up here, you’ll not only be smelling the coffee but the clean air. Don’t forget to visit Hammarby Sjöstad, this is a famously eco-friendly neighbourhood. And they love their recycling here - so be prepared.
Bear with us as we remain in the Nordic region, but Iceland has long been at the forefront of fighting climate change. And there’s no wonder as this is home to some of the most stunning scenery in the world and in close proximity to the Arctic Circle. Again you’ll see evidence of this on your tripro Reykjavik, with the tiny population all encouraged to use greener transport such as the cycle paths all around the city. They also use natural resources such as geothermal wells (which you can see for yourself when you visit the hot springs) which they can harness to power the city.
After the canals, the capital is probably most famous for its cycle paths. In fact, a stunning statistic tells us that there are more bikes than people in the Netherlands. And they’ve also been a pioneer in sustainability, introducing hundreds of charging points to power electric cars (so do make sure you’re extra careful when crossing the roads). However these help with combatting climate change and cutting down on harmful emissions. And if you don’t fancy flying, you can now take the Eurostar all the way there.
The next thing to consider is where to stay for eco-friendly holidays. Nearly one-fifth of the travellers we polled said one barrier to a more sustainable trip was not knowing what to look for in a hotel. So here are some of our favourite hotels and chains which are flying the flag for sustainability.
If you’ve seen pictures of Barcelona you might well have seen this iconic luxury hotel shaped like a fin on the beach. It has Llave Verde (Green Key) status, an international programme given to hotels which contribute to the environment by doing things like offering organic food.
This cool hotel was created with eco-tourism in mind, and they have various initiatives aimed at protecting the environment. From their LED lighting scheme and air-conditioning system that allows excess heat to be transferred to other parts of the building to sustainable synthetic wood doors and recycled leather furnishings.
You know it's going to be eco-friendly when you realise they have solar panels on the roof and a reminder to switch off the taps on their organic toiletries. If you want to save the environment by not having your room serviced every day, they’ll give you a free drink in the bar as a reward.
While we all love a bit of room service, the change of towels and sheets consume a huge amount of water, energy and, of course, detergent. Follow the advice for reusing towels if you’re staying for several days and make a positive impact.
While some hotels already have measures in place to do this, if in doubt, switch it off.
Many places let you hire bikes for example, or only serve organic food. If they’re keen to boost their green creds it should feature highly in the hotel description.
Holiday islands are blessed with numerous beaches and plenty of activities, and often in a relatively small area.
Discover more >
We have compiled a list of our top ten destinations for the best lake holidays in the UK and around the world.
Discover more >